France's Crazy Wind is the Main Reason Behind Provence's Sunny Climate

The Mistral Wind is behind everything beautiful to do with Provence
The Mistral Wind is behind everything beautiful to do with Provence | © Oleg Znamenskiy/Shutterstock
Alex Ledsom

Provence is known for its wonderfully-sunny weather and clear skies; however, not many people know that one of the main reasons behind the sunny climate is a crazy phenomenon called “Le Mistral “. Here’s why it’s so special and what to see and do with the sunny weather it leaves behind.

Loved by over 40s

What’s a “Mistral”?

The word “mistral” comes from the old Occitan dialect meaning “masterly”. It certainly is. It’s most strong during the change in seasons during winter and spring, often reaching speeds of over 40 mph (65 km/h). It’s been known to get as high as 115 mph (180.1 km/h). Many of the trees are forever bent in the direction of the prevailing wind.

The Mistral wind can be fierce

What Does a Mistral Do?

The wind is created as air sucks through the gap between low and high-pressure fronts. The wind pulls in the air from the foothills of the Alps and continues down the river valleys towards the sea—it’s usually Marseille and St Tropez that can be most harshly hit by wind from the westerly direction. It can be bitterly cold, but the good news is that cool, dry weather that clears the skies and blows away the pollution and dust sometimes follow the cold. It helps give Provence its reputation for a certain kind of luminous light (which has attracted painters for centuries). Locals say the Mistral will always last for an odd number of days—normally one, three, or five.

The Mistral wind can sweep everything up in its path

What All Can a Mistral Cause

The local architecture has long been built to accommodate the wind. Architectural digs have discovered walls built around 400,000 BC in the Nice area to protect fires from the wind. Houses are built with their back against the wind (facing south). Bell towers are built to allow the wind to pass through. Local life is affected by the wind in both positive and negative ways. There’s an old wives’ tale that babies and young children become more restless when the wind passes through. But it’s also a reason for some of the best wine in France—the Mistral clears the vines, dries the soil, and provides over 300 days of sunshine on the grapes each year.

The Mistral can sometimes be most felt on the coast

Visiting During Mistral Season

Those visiting the region in the winter or spring, make sure to pay attention to wind speeds in the weather forecast—as well as temperatures—and pack a jumper. The weather can be mild but as soon as the Mistral sweeps in, the need for an extra layer becomes apparent, particularly in the winter.

The Mistral wind is behind all of Provence’s weather patterns

Many of the things to see and do revolve completely around the sunny weather. Head to one of the amazing local vineyards that profit from the sunshine. Most importantly, find a body of water. In the summer months, it can be really hot in many of the inland Provençal towns, so design the day around at least one water stop like a local pool (better yet, book a hotel with a pool), a wild-swimming stop, or include a beach diversion. Head to a St-Tropez beach for its hedonistic reputation, a Marseille beach for its African big-city vibe, or visit a great landmark on a beach such as the Fort de Bregançon. And remember to take a sunhat, cream, and towel.

Street corner, Mane, Provence, France
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.